About the Innovator
Rachel Frevert is the founder of Integrative Learning Academy in Peoria, Arizona! They’ve reimagined an education focused on individuality with an inclusive learning model that serves children of diverse learning needs. We sat down with her to hear about her journey as an education innovator. We know you’re going to love her insights!
Us: We’re so excited to be chatting with you, Rachel! Tell us how Integrative Learning Academy got started?
Rachel: I opened ILA out of necessity during the pandemic. I was teaching at a preschool when the schools closed and after helping my own four children finish out the school year, including my Autistic son, we needed an alternative to online learning. As a former public school teacher, I felt I was well-equipped to home-educate. My friend/ neighbor asked if I would take her three girls into my class that year and from there the word kept spreading and my class continued to grow. It was really the catalyst to something I had been dreaming about for a long time but never had the courage to do.
Us: What are some ways your microschool is thinking outside the box in how you educate?
Rachel: At Integrative Learning Academy we use an inclusive model for educating students with neurodiversities. Our students are fully integrated with typically developing peers throughout the entire day. We offer speech, OT, and next year will include music therapy, offered both during and after school. We run small ability groups for literacy and math to ensure we are reaching every student at their learning level. Our model emphasizes student choice and voice in learning as well as social emotional skills such as self-regulating and problem solving. We also focus on developing Executive Function skills in all our students.
Us: What was your biggest challenge in launching a microschool?
Rachel: Overcoming my fear of breaking out of the typical educational box and daring to do something I had only dreamed of for years. Also, learning the ropes of entrepreneurship including billing and payroll.
Us: What was your best early investment as a business owner?
Rachel: A really nice computer and printer. I use them both every single day.
Us: What is a typical day like for you, running a microschool?
Rachel: My day typically starts early so I can get a workout in before school starts. I then get my own kids up and ready for school, lunches packed and clean my house (a recurring theme!). Students start trickling in around 8:30 am and we hit the ground running. A packed day of learning ends at 2pm where I then do administrative work and planning for another two or so hours. After dinner and bedtime for my kids I typically return for another round of cleaning, final preparations for the next day, and crash into bed (always later than I’d like) to start the cycle again.
Us: What do you wish someone had told you before you started on your journey as an education innovator?
Rachel: This process of being a teacherpreneur will become easier. Although you’ll continue to have many questions as you grow your business, the mountains and obstacles standing in your way as you open your own school that once seemed insurmountable will someday be looked back upon as small hills you summited.
Us: What is your favorite story of a child’s experience at Integrative Learning Academy?
Rachel: Oh wow, I have so many! This week a child with dyslexia read her first book. The look of pride on her face and her sense of accomplishment brought me to tears. This child had a traumatic experience at her local public school and was filled with shame and fear coming into our school. Watching her blossom and develop as a reader has been a blessing. I am truly honored to walk alongside my students as they grow and learn each and every day.
Us: Can’t wait to follow your school as it grows and thrives! We love to see how you’re innovating.
Learn more about Rachel and Integrative Learning Academy at https://integrativelearningacademy.com!